To help spark intellectual and cultural life at Cornell, five new A.D. White Professors-at-Large have been appointed: theoretical physicist Nima Arkani-Hamed, evolutionary biologist David Hillis, cheetah expert Laurie Marker, science reporter and author Andrew Revkin and network theorist Duncan Watts, Ph.D. ’97.
Their six-year terms run through June 2019.
Arkani-Hamed has revolutionized the field of particle theory, proposing groundbreaking theories related to new extra space-time dimensions, super-symmetric extensions of the standard model, the nature of electroweak symmetry breaking and mass generation, the cosmological expansion of the universe, the nature of dark matter in the universe and, recently, an entirely new idea about the origin of quantum mechanics. Arkani-Hamed was an inaugural winner of the $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize, in 2012. He is a professor in the school of natural sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.
Hillis has developed molecular approaches for reconstructing the evolutionary history of organisms, or phylogeny, with an emphasis on the relationships of amphibians. He has made significant contributions to the understanding of hybridization, molecular processes of evolutionary change and statistical analysis of biological phylogenies. Hillis has a strong commitment to public communication of science and the application of evolutionary methods to basic and applied questions. A professor of biology at the University of Texas, Austin, he was the recipient of a MacArthur fellowship in 1999.
Marker is founder and director of the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, which develops best practices in research, education and ecology related to cheetahs. With collaborators, Marker helped to establish North America’s most successful captive cheetah breeding program, in Oregon; identify the cheetah’s lack of genetic variation; and develop the International Cheetah Studbook, a registry of captive cheetahs worldwide. The recipient of numerous awards, she won the Lowell Thomas Prize in 2010. She is a research fellow at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoological Park.
Revkin has been covering the environment for The New York Times since 1995. He has written acclaimed books on the Amazon (1990), global warming (1992) and the changing Arctic (2006). He is the first science reporter to win a John Chancellor Award, one of journalism’s highest honors, for his two decades of pioneering coverage of global warming. Revkin has been a pioneer in multimedia journalism, blogging, pod casting and shooting still and video imagery in far-flung places. He received a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 2006.
Watts, one of the principal architects of network theory, is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research and a founding member of the MSR-NYC lab. He was a professor of sociology at Columbia University 2000-09 and has been a principal research scientist at Yahoo! Research, where he directed the Human Social Dynamics group. His research on social networks and collective dynamics has appeared in a wide range of journals, from Nature, Science and Physical Review Letters to the American Journal of Sociology and Harvard Business Review. He has written three books: “Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age” (2003); “Small Worlds: The Dynamics of Networks Between Order and Randomness” (1999); and “Everything Is Obvious: Once You Know the Answer” (2011). He is a visiting fellow at Columbia and Oxford Universities.
Diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi, a current A.D. White visiting professor, was renewed for a two-year term.
There are 19 active A.D. White Professors-at-Large. They visit campus at least two times for about a week during their six-year terms to conduct public programs and engage in intellectual exchange with faculty and students in classrooms, laboratories and informal settings.